Realme’s Narzo 20 was a decent budget smartphone for 2020 that focused on getting the basics off the ground at an affordable starting price of Rs. 10,499. As we noted in our review, it was bulky and had a plastic unibody that didn’t look or feel high quality. In terms of performance, it struggled a little while playing. Now, in 2021, Realme has released a much-needed update. It’s priced a bit higher, starting at Rs. 12,499 (4GB RAM + 64GB storage) but offers a lot more than its predecessor, making it a good budget smartphone with a focus on performance.
However, Realme has also announced a completely different model with the Narzo 30 5G (First Impressions) that offers 5G connectivity, a better processor, a 90 Hz refresh rate display and a 5000 mAh battery in a slimmer case. It’s at a competitive price of Rs. 15,999 and offers 6 GB of RAM as well as 128 GB of internal storage. So which Narzo should you go for? Or are there better smartphones?
Realme Narzo 30 price and variants
The Realme Narzo 30 is available in two RAM and storage versions. The basic variant offers 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage and costs Rs. 12,499, while the second variant offers 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage and priced at Rs. 14,499. The Realme Narzo 30 5G is available in just one configuration with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage and costs 15,999 rupees. The price of the Narzo 30 5G seems understandable when you consider that it has improved specs plus 5G support, but it comes very close to the price of the more expensive Narzo 30.
Realme Narzo 30 design
Realme’s Narzo 30 is in stark contrast to the Narzo 20, which looked very simple. This new phone is offered in two styles: Racing Silver and Racing Blue. We received a Racing Silver device and it looks pretty high quality. Both options have a glittering, off-center stripe that runs through the camera module.
The frame and back of the Narzo 30 are made of plastic. The glossy back collects dust and easily picks up fingerprints. It flexes a little when pressed, even with a little pressure. Even so, the overall construction feels pretty good and the plastic doesn’t break. The phone feels a bit thick at 9.4mm, but not too heavy at 192g. The seamless design from the display to the frame and the back gives it a comfortable hand feel. It lies comfortably in the hand and offers a firm hold.
On the bottom, next to the Type-C USB port, the primary microphone, and the speaker, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack. The volume buttons are on the left and the power button with an integrated fingerprint reader is on the right.
One of the big changes the Narzo 30 made over the Narzo 20 is the screen. It’s still a 6.5-inch LCD, but now has a refresh rate of 90 Hz and the resolution has been increased from HD + on the Narzo 20 to Full HD +.
Realme Narzo 30 specifications and software
The Realme Narzo 30 uses the game-oriented Helio G95 processor from MediaTek, which has two powerful 2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 cores and six energy-efficient 2.0 GHz Cortex-A55 cores. The graphics are processed by an integrated Mali-G76 GPU that is clocked at 900 MHz. Depending on the variant selected, the phone has 4 GB or 6 GB LPDDR4x RAM and 64 GB or 128 GB UFS 2.1 memory as well as a microSD card memory expansion of up to 256 GB. Connectivity options include dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5, and NFC.
The Narzo 30 runs on Realme UI 2.0, which is based on Android 11. The software lets you customize icon shapes, system colors, fonts, and even the shapes of the icons in the notification bar. My test device had some third-party apps like Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, and Soloop preinstalled, but they didn’t affect my daily use unless I was using them. There were also several Realme branded apps like DocVault, Community, HeyFun, Realme Link, and Realme Store. Some of these can be removed, but not all. With the exception of the theme store, most of them didn’t give out any advertising notices.
Realme Narzo 30 performance and battery life
The MediaTek Helio G95 processor copes with the operating system quite well without any delays or stutters in everyday life. Opening and closing apps in no time and multitasking was no problem with the 6 GB RAM variant I tested, although most apps stay in memory for a while. The Narzo 30 also scores well in the benchmarks with 3,56,846 points in AnTuTu and 532 and 1,700 points in Geekbench’s single and multicore test.
Gaming on the Narzo 30 was fluid and lag-free, but this phone heats up under stress. Call of Duty: Mobile ran smoothly with the default high graphics and frame rate settings. The phone stayed cool while playing with these default settings, but changing the graphics to Very High made it warm quickly. Asphalt 9: Legends was not available for download. I tried the new Space Marshals 3, which looked great on the Narzo 30’s screen. The phone got pretty hot at the Medium (default) level of detail. Setting it to Low provided the heat.
The Narzo 30 has a 5,000 mAh battery and I lasted for a day and a half during the test period. My usage included surfing social media apps, email, Slack, a few photos, an hour of gaming, and an hour of video streaming. The supplied 30 W adapter is designed for fast charging, with the Narzo 30’s battery level reaching 55 percent in 30 minutes, 99 percent in 60 minutes and a full charge in 1 hour 10 minutes.
Realme Narzo 30 cameras
The Realme Narzo 30 has a triple rear camera that includes a 48-megapixel f / 1.8 main camera, a 2-megapixel monochrome camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera. Selfie tasks are carried out by a 16 megapixel f / 2.1 camera. The camera interface is quite intuitive with button controls that are just a tap away. Further options such as setting the timer and selecting the frame are located one level lower in a pull-out drawer. When setting up the camera, it should be noted that only two of the three cameras are accessible to the user – the monochrome camera is only activated in portrait mode for depth calculation.
Photos taken in daylight were bright and saturated with good dynamic range and detail in the darker areas of the image. With the 2x digital zoom, this phone also took decent photos, but with less detail. Photos taken with 3x digital zoom were unusable and looked like oil paintings. The 2 megapixel macro camera took average photos with decent detail but imprecise colors. It’s a fixed focus that makes it incredibly difficult to focus on an object when your hands are shaky.
Photos taken in portrait orientation with the rear view camera were sharp and clear, with lots of detail during the day, but average edge detection. The 16-megapixel front camera took decent selfies, but again with below-average edge detection in portrait mode.
In low light, the rear camera could have difficulty focusing when taking normal photos and in portrait mode. The same goes for landscape photos, which came out quite cloudy and full of noise. Night mode improves the level of detail and makes the scene brighter, but with mixed results and the quality depends heavily on the available light nearby.
Videos captured in daylight at 1080p looked too sharp, lacking detail, but showed decent stabilization. Videos in 4K looked better, with good detail, but were very shaky as they lacked any stabilization. In low light, videos recorded at 1080p were noisy and mostly unusable. Switching to 4K showed much better detail, but there was still a lot of noise.
The decision whether to buy a Narzo 30 or a Narzo 30 5G depends on your budget and requirements. This is a smartphone market that is also filled with interesting alternatives from other companies, and with 5G networks not going live yet, you can prioritize cost savings or other features. If you still want a future-proof smartphone, you should choose between the two new Narzo 30s for the Narzo 30 5G.
If you’re on a tight budget and 5G isn’t a priority, then the Realme Narzo 30 (prices starting at Rs 12,499) is a good budget smartphone that offers a great day-to-day experience, average gaming performance, decent photos and videos in daylight, and good battery life. However, Xiaomi’s Redmi 10S (review) offers an additional 8 MP ultra-wide-angle camera, a Super AMOLED display, 33 W charging, stereo speakers and an IP53 rating for dust and water resistance for just Rs. 500. As a package, that would be Redmi 10S makes more sense for many people.
When you are ready to pay extra Rs. 1,500, Pocos M3 Pro 5G (review) priced at Rs. 13,999 is also a better choice. You get a future-proof smartphone with hardware like the Narzo 30 5G, but with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.